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February 12, 2020


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Reflections with Camp & Retreat Ministries

Finding Love and Support in your Calling


By Jane Petke, Director at Suttle Lake Camp

“God calls you to the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Fredrick Buechner

Rather than a singular conversation or time in prayer, I picture my own calling to be a series of conversations and a continuous string of prayers full of holy nudges that guide me in my service.

I was blessed as a child to have a family and church family that nurtured me with a connection to God and a desire to serve from an early age. I was confident that no matter the vocation I chose, I could serve God through that work. I was sure that God’s light and love could shine through me whether I became an author (which I was firmly committed to for most of my elementary career), an astronaut (a shift in 5th or 6th grade including the time of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster), a teacher (a driving force through high school and into college), or any other path I might find myself walking.

Through my youth, the church gave me opportunities to deepen my faith and learn leadership skills. I am thankful for my youth director, Bev Jones, and others at Bothell United Methodist Church in Washington that would gently take me out of my comfort zone and empower me as a leader within our youth group and eventually at the district and conference levels.

Many of these mentors within my church and the larger church asked if I had considered being a minister. I remember having one of these conversations as a young counselor at Camp Indianola on the Puget Sound in Washington; sitting under the stars just outside the room where the campers slept, talking with my co-counselor (who happened to be a minister). After sharing conversation, he asked just that question. I remember pausing before answering. My true joy, and where I felt a sense of purpose, was in working with children and that’s where I felt God calling me.

It was many years later that my passion for working with children and my love for helping others grow in their faith came into clearer focus. I was volunteering for a week as a camp counselor at Indianola again. I had just accepted a position as a Head Start Teacher in Seattle. Learning this, the camp director said “Great! Next summer how about coming back and being my lifeguard?” That was an easy question to respond yes to and while it was a seasonal position, it put me on the track of camp and retreat ministry.

It was just a couple  years after this, when I began working part-time year-round at the camp alongside my new husband, Daniel (who had been working in camp and retreat ministry for many years already), and serving part time in youth ministry at a local church. In camp and retreat ministry I have found a deep connection to serving God by extending hospitality through Christ and providing sacred space for people of all ages to grow and learn. Together, Daniel and I found our way to Suttle Lake where we have enjoyed serving in ministry together for 20 years now. God’s guidance has been constant and we are thankful for the many ways we continue to grow and learn.


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